← Home Ownership

It's All in the Neighborhood

According to a survey done by the California Association of Realtors, the number one factor in buying a home is the neighborhood. Over 50 percent of respondents said that neighborhood was the most important factor, even above getting a "deal."

So, you know the neighborhood is important, but how do you go about ensuring that the neighborhood will suit your needs? Here are some things you should consider.

Neighborhoods with a good school system attract more buyers

Schools - Schools are an important thing to consider when buying a home because they are the single most important element in determining a good residential neighborhood. It's also something that is measurable and the data is relatively easy to find. There are several good websites where you can get this data. One of the most important things to look for is how all the schools in the district are ranked and rated. Often families start by looking for good elementary schools because they have small children, however the schools they feed into are just as, if not more, important. You want a district that not only has good elementary schools but that also feeds into successful middle and high schools. At the high school level some of the things to look for are National rankings, percent of students that are college prepared, graduation rates and number of AP classes offered. Property values will also increase quicker if a neighborhood school is awarded as a National Blue Ribbon School; depending on the area this can increase the value 5%.

Walkable neighborhoods are becoming more popular with easy access to necessities and entertainment

Walkability – demographics are changing and people are looking at spending less, not more time in their cars. Is this an important factor for you? A recent study showed that an increase in access by walking to stores, schools and even the post office can increase the value of residential property. The "Walk Score" is a system that ranks neighborhoods' "walkability." The ranking will be between 1 and 100, 1 being the worst and 100 being the best. Not only are people looking at this for the convenience of things being within walking distance, but also because lifestyles are increasingly based on healthy and active choices.

Location is the most important factor in the search for a home.

Location or Neighborhood over "the house" – the physical elements of a property can be changed much easier than the culture of a neighborhood can. From an investment stand point, people are more accepting of a bathroom that needs updating if they can get their student into a good school or have access to a walkable neighborhood. Keep in mind that it may be better to settle for a home that needs a little work in order to get into a better neighborhood.

Newer vs. Established Neighborhoods – This is a personal preference. With a newer home you get more amenities, such as clubs, pool, trails for walking, running and biking. These amenities also come with increased cost (HOA fees) and rules. Whereas an established community gives you more flexibility with your property but still the desirability.

When it comes to buying a home, the old saying in Real Estate is location, location, location, but in many ways it can be even more defined as neighborhood, neighborhood – you get the idea.

Our graphic below highlights the most important aspects of choosing the perfect neighborhood for your family.

Things to think about when deciding where you want to buy a house.

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About the Author
Diana Hill

With over 30 years of experience, Diana brings a wealth of real estate knowledge and expertise with her timely and insightful articles, videos and webinars.


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